Book Review contemporary Literary Fiction

Beartown by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

I read this book last year and have put off writing a review because I find myself incapable of capturing what Beartown truly made me feel. It’s hard to write a comprehensive review that will give proper justice to this book, but I will do my best to do so. Reading Beartown was an experience. And although I am writing my review almost a year later, this book has never left my mind. This is one of those books that is ingrained in me and will stay with me for a very long time.

Pub Date: September 15, 2016

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (English version)

Number of Pages: 432

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Sports


Fredrik Backman, author of Beartown


A small town that is nestled deep in the forest, Beartown is slowly crumbling down and the only thing that’s keeping it alive is hockey. Hockey is the one thing that unites everyone together in Beartown. Everyone believes that if the junior ice hockey team wins the semi-final match, it is going to bring the glory back to this dying town and with it the economic revival.

So when the junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals and actually have a shot at winning, all the hopes and dreams of the entire community fall on their shoulders. With so much pressure of bearing the weight entirely on their shoulders, we see morality and values take a back seat. One misstep turns into a ripple effect that could tear apart and divide the community altogether.

Beartown is an exploration of the rich culture of hockey but it’s also so much more than that.

People round here don’t always know the difference between right and wrong. But we know the difference between good and evil.


Reading Beartown was an emotional rollercoaster. Beartown touches on several dark and heavy themes and I find myself needing to pause every so often to process it. This is a book that will touch you, consume you, and make you reflect on life.

Beartown is a book about hockey in a small town. And even though I am Canadian, I have not been very interested in the sport (please don’t revoke my citizenship). But Beartown is more than just hockey. It is a story about community, relationships, ethics & morality. Each chapter is full of wisdom and lessons.

“If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway.”

We get to know several characters and each of their background stories that are perfectly developed and integrated into the overall story of Beartown. Each character seems to represent a slice of life. Some of them are very likable, some make you feel enraged. But many will show courage and what it means to have a genuine heart even if it means giving up on your lifelong dreams.

Amat, Benji, and Maya are my favourites in this book. These characters stayed true to their roots especially in difficult situations. Ramona is also another favourite. She is humorous and full of wisdom.

A master of storytelling, Backman did it again with his impeccable writing and deeply developed characters. His writing is honestly so simple but will grip you. He has a way with words that deliver emotion really well into the pages. And in classic Backman fashion, he once again created a story with intricate details that may seem irrelevant at first but eventually weaves together to create the full picture. A true masterpiece.

Beartown is a book that will definitely stay with me forever. Undoubtedly one of the best books that I have read.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

content warning

rape, sexual assault violence, guns

some of my favourite quotes

“There are few words that are harder to explain than “loyalty.” It’s always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other occur because of the same thing.”

“The very worst events in life have that effect on a family: we always remember, more sharply than anything else, the last happy moments before everything fell apart.”

“Sometimes life doesn’t let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep.”

“A great deal is expected of anyone who’s been given a lot.”


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